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Psychology and ELT – Confidence



What does one mean when one says ‘This was a great talk!’ or ‘This was an amazing presentation!’? Surely they mean the content, right? The quality of the ideas, the way they are structured, how one thing follows from another, etc.
If this is what you think, just watch this fantastic clip. The speaker was introduced as an expert, but was in actual fact an actor and he delivered a talk on ‘Game Theory’. His talk had been carefully prepared to sound scientific but to be in fact completely meaningless. Were the people in the audience fooled? To quote Wikipedia: ‘The actor fooled not just one, but three separate audiences of professional and graduate students. Despite the emptiness of his lecture, fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals produced evaluations of Dr. Fox that were overwhelmingly positive….’
What came to be called as ‘The Dr Fox Effect’ is in fact a manifestation of what Psychologists call ‘The Illusion of Confidence’. We use confidence as a heuristic; we subconsciously equate confidence with competence. And while the latter often comes with the former, the presence of the former by no means implies the latter.
[The moral: ‘Packaging’ matters. It seems that confidence and manner of delivery plays a much greater role in how we evaluate such an experience that we would like to think; once you reach a certain level of competence as a teacher and you feel you know your stuff, it may pay to invest more on improving delivery.]

[NB: I do not own the copyright to this video clip. I have uploaded it here for educational purposes].

#Psychology #ELT #Confidence

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